The Criterion development team returns to work on Need For Speed games after 9 years in which the Ghost Games development team worked on the series in which the level of versions varied. Need For Speed Unbound is the title of the game that witnesses the return of the beloved team that gave us one of the best versions of the series in Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit, is this the expected comeback?
Unfortunately, the game resurrects the story phase like recent versions of the series, and this time with a story that might be the worst among recent stories. It features irritating characters who seem to be based on the most absurd social media personalities, and employs phrases and sentences that try too hard to impress the Tik Tok generation.
The game’s story centers around an illegal street racing tournament in the fictional city of Lakeshore City. The tournament takes place over 4 weeks during which you race to earn money and upgrade your vehicle for championship races. Fortunately, you can complete most of the races and challenges without paying attention to the story, which only focuses on the races held on weekends.
What distinguishes this version is that it provides cartoon effects that appear on the player’s vehicle and the competitors’ vehicles while running the races, such as the appearance of smoke from the tires or the appearance of wings on your vehicle when using nitro and similar effects that give the game its own identity. Your character and the characters in the game world all come to us with a cartoon design as well.
It depends on the cell shading, while the design of the vehicles and the game world tends to be realistic and at a good graphical level. Acceptance of this artistic approach that mixes the two sides may depend on the player’s taste, but we found it a beautiful mix. On the audio level, the game focuses more on presenting modern rap songs, and personally we wish there was an option to turn off those songs or at least switch between them.
The player will find the control system similar to that of the previous game, Need For Speed Heat, and it takes some time to get the hang of it. However, what sets this version apart is that it allows for smoother and more flexible drifting compared to the previous version, which had a cumbersome vehicle control system. This time, the vehicle modification system lets you tweak the suspension system more precisely, enabling you to customize your vehicle for your preferred drifting style. Additionally, the game offers multiple options for taking sharp turns, unlike the previous version which limited it to one method, resulting in a more enjoyable driving experience. And smoothly.
The game features 3 main mission types. The first type is traditional races where you race against opponents. The second type is drift challenges where you aim to earn as many points as possible. The third type, a new addition to the series, is Takeover challenges. These challenges require you to drift and destroy targets like cones and paint cans while driving fast to reach the save point as quickly as possible to earn points. The points counter will double as time passes, but if you fail to reach the save point within a certain period, the counter resets to its original value, making it challenging to earn points smoothly.
The player can participate in two types of side missions between races in single-player mode. The first type involves delivering a vehicle within a set time frame, and the second involves evading the police before delivering the vehicle. These missions provide opportunities to drive and try out various supercars and well-modified vehicles, giving the player insight into the best vehicles to consider buying and upgrading. It also gives you an idea of the supercars that suit your driving style more than others, which makes you sure of the decision to buy them without incurring the trouble of collecting the necessary funds for that.
Need For Speed Unbound shares similarities and almost identitcal content and side activities as the previous version, with some minor additions, like races during the day and night and a Heat meter that increases with races and determines the danger of police vehicles on the street.
The multiplayer experience in Need For Speed Unbound feels lacking as it only offers traditional races and lacks police chases and drift competitions or Takeover challenges. Collecting money in this stage is easier than the individual game stage, with the separation of your wallet and your vehicles. Between the two modes and the mode is in dire need of more content through future updates.
Speaking of the negatives of the game, there are three main negatives. The first is the difficulty of obtaining money during the first half of the experience, in which you find yourself unable to buy highly efficient vehicles and suffice with vehicles that need a lot of modification and improvement to keep up with the level of opponents. It is also annoying that many One of the races with big prizes requires you to pay a commission to participate.
For example, there may be a race in which the first place wins 12 thousand dollars, but he will pay 4 thousand dollars to participate, and thus he will eventually get 8 thousand dollars! The game enables you to place a side bet against one of the competitors, which means that you have to finish the race in a better position than the competitor. However, these bets do not typically provide a substantial financial return unless you challenge an opponent with a vehicle much higher level than yours and the chances of beating that opponent are low. The game retains the same deep and excellent modification system from the previous version, but why have this system if most of your money will go into modifying vehicles and enhancing their performance?
The second negative is the “false” difficulty in many races, you may develop your vehicle to be literally at the highest possible level for its class and you may be in first place with a 400 meter gap between you and second place, but at the end of the race the competitor in second place manages to cross the distance between you And he precedes you to the first place, although his vehicle is not at the level of your vehicle, which is an annoying problem that existed in the previous version as well.
The third and final drawback is the police chases. The artificial intelligence spawns high-level police vehicles close to the player during city exploration and chases, making it challenging to evade them. This often prolongs the chases before the player can escape. The development team can address some of these drawbacks through future updates, which could significantly enhance the experience.
We spent more than 20 hours with the experience in which we raced in the streets of Lakeshore City against artificial intelligence in the single-player phase and against other players in the multiplayer phase, and we performed many challenges and side activities, and we can say that Need For Speed Unbound is not the expected return from Criterion, but it is an experience that improved from Some aspects of the past version and preserved some of the flaws as it provided a beautiful artistic direction that gives it its own identity.
Although the experience is enjoyable, Criterion needs to provide a bolder experience in the future and distance itself from ideas that we have grown tired of in recent versions, such as a focus on the story. Note: This game includes some slogans inside the game that are not suitable for the teachings of our true religion for a group that we reject all of them.